Consciousness is not something that happens inside us: It is something we do.Alva Noe, Philosopher/cognition scientist
Map of the Universe – we all have one – each as unique a depiction of the Universe as we are, as Its beholders. Everything we perceive, interpret, experience, and believe the Universe to be – both tangible and otherwise – is encoded in our personal Map of the Universe. We traverse our lives on the roads we’ve drawn upon it, as a historical reference, statement of conviction, and personal presentation – a guide on which we periodically blaze new trails that add to our construct. Emerging epiphanies, insights, and revelations inspire necessary and appropriate cosmic cartography updates. Let’s begin with a look at the paper on which our Map of the Universe is drawn.
First and foremost, without ego to locate or anchor our experiential construct, there is nothing to Map nor entity to map it. “Pure ego (unique energy signature) simply roots our sense as individual. Without it, All is One and One is All, devoid of personal experience.” – Shedding Wetiko
Said ‘individual’ sails the seas of the territory: “The Oneness Duality – variously represented as: Creator/Creation; consciousness/phenomena; emptiness/form; spirit/body; mind/matter; thought/energy; ethereal/material; Heaven/Earth; implicate order/explicate order; res potentia/res extensa; absence/presence; red pill/blue pill; hole/doughnut ……etc.
Life is our voyage on the razor’s edge [ / ] between. Like a coin that is phenomenal only so long as it bears both a heads and a tails, we are each a living breathing ‘one’ that forms a unique and transitory interface between ‘zero’ and ‘infinity’: 0 < 1 < ∞…..a lifetime that defines a specific illusory divide between nothing and everything.” – Creation
With our first breath, we mount the razor’s edge and engage the Oneness Duality. Our initial impression in this moment etches the first stroke on our Map of the Universe that charts the territory and orients our experience – delineating our perceptions (& misperceptions), interpretations (& misinterpretations), various indoctrination, reflections, insights, and our beliefs most of all.
Cognition is not something that life can possibly have. It is rather something created by the intersection between an organism and its environment – think of how the organism couples to its surroundings, for that is where experience is created.paco calvo, philosopher/cognition scientist
To examine our Map of the Universe, let’s break it down into 5 basic questions – the 5Qs:
- What Am I?
- Who Am I?
- What Is All This?
- What Am I Doing Here?
- What Do I Care?
What am I? Does it matter? You decide – it’s your Map of the Universe. Let’s start with matter. What is matter? We all seem to be made of stuff – what stuff? Our senses infer a solid interpretation, but a little analysis reveals we are 70% or more water – water that comes and goes every day. Water, along with all the other ‘stuff’ is made of molecules that are built from atoms.
What is an atom? Conventional models place a large nucleus at the center of a various number of smaller orbiting electrons – how much smaller? 1000x smaller! How far away are these tiny electrons from the nucleus? If we match the scale of a gold (Au) nucleus to the size of the sun, the outermost ring of electrons is more than twice as far away as Pluto (500x smaller) is from the Sun. What’s in between? Space!!! Space that accounts for 99.9999…..% of what we ‘are’ – physically.
We are each a living construction of living cells, that are made of molecules, that are made of atoms. How many cells? – science tells us tens of trillions of cells by last count. Virtually all of which are regularly replaced such that every 7-10 years we are living and breathing as an entirely different assembly of cells. Remarkably, more than half of our cells are microbes and bacteria that contain no human DNA at all – species living within us as their Universe, and whom we could not survive without. We are not individuals, we are each an interdependent colony.
So…..what are we, indeed? By conventional measure, a whole lot of nothing apparently – and what little there is beyond nothing, blows in and out like the wind – and less than half of that blowing dust represented by our human body is even human. Do we draw up the non-human cells on our Map of the Universe as separate somehow, if at all? How about the space, the fluidity? How does that look – a blank page, maybe? Do we draw in highways on which all the bits come and go? Where do they come from and where do they go? Where do we come from and where do we go?
Do we paint the unfathomable on our Map of the Universe as sky? Do we conscientiously acknowledge mystical moments whenever they arise or do we deny, ignore, or somehow delete the experience – feeling compelled to grope for a mirage of solidity instead. Perhaps we store them in an unmarked building at some obscure location on the outskirts of our Map of the Universe – dedicated to esoterica, for occasional viewing only when pressed, or while in in private, or when we have the courage, or at some future moment when the life that draws our Map of the Universe takes us there.
What am I?
Who is navigating the razor’s edge? Since pure ego is just a license plate, who’s driving the car (i.e.: the vacuous ‘What Am I’ package specified above)? Am “I” a cadre of special “self” cells in my head that represent some unique and transcendent soul – one who progressively surfs the space-time continuum in a series of lifetimes? But “Who Am I?” begs a larger question, “Who/what exactly is asking, ‘Who Am I?’?”. Ancient wisdom suggests we become “the Witness who observes” our life on the razor’s edge. Witness is the intermediary between the Infinite, and the unique pure ego that is spun off of the Inifinite, which occupies our ‘individual’ construct. And yet – step outside of the construct, and what does ‘who’ or ‘Witness’ even mean in the Universe? These questions taken together suggest the answer to “Who Am I?” just might be ineffable – no answer at all – the naked truth “beneath” the Emperor’s New Clothes most all of us wear our whole life long.
The following perspectives are offered as points of departure for personal Pontification.
One of the main characteristics of a life of sleep is that we are totally identified with being a Me. Starting with our name, our history, our self-images and identities, we use each one of these things to solidify the sense that we are living in our little subjective sphere. We experience ourselves as “special”—not in the normal sense of being distinguished or exceptional but in the sense that we feel unique and subtly significant.”Ezra Bayda
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly, Used wrongly, however, it becomes dangerous. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly—you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over. It’s almost as though you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself.”Eckhart Tolle
The ‘I am’ is a thought, while awareness is not a thought; there is no ‘I am aware’ in awareness. The personality gives way to the witness, then the witness goes and pure awareness remains. All hangs on the idea ‘I am’. Examine it very thoroughly. It lies at the root of every trouble. This ‘I am’ idea was not born with you. You could have lived very well without it. It came later due to your self-identification with the body. It created an illusion of separation where there was none. It made you a stranger in your own world alien and inimical. Without the sense of ‘I am’ life goes on. There are moments when we are without the sense of ‘I am’, at peace and happy. With the return of ‘I am’, trouble starts.Nisargardatta Maharaj
Who Am I?
OK, we’ve dabbled in science, we’ve touched on the mystical – how about some nuts and bolts? Let’s begin with perception, what our senses tell us and how we interpret each impression. Is it ‘real’ what our senses present? What makes ‘real’, “real”? What happens to our Map of the Universe when we realize our senses have been duped, or our minds have completely misunderstood, or when what we ‘knew’ with finality as ‘real’, is revealed to be unfounded, delusional, or non-existent? Do we update our Map of the Universe honestly or do we go all ‘blue pill’ and fudge it to conform to our preferences, habits, or comfort?
What if we could see how a fly sees, hear the way a dolphin hears, taste what a spider tastes, or experience how a dog reads the news through everything it smells. The Map of the Universe for a dog is a different animal from ours yet every bit as ‘real’ and relevant in the Whole World we all share. Every species represents a class of Maps of the Universe, each a blueprint for the respective view that is constructed by their very nature, and there’s quite a few – ours being just one among this many known styles of Earthling:
Wow! That’s a whole Universe of Universes – and that’s just here on this planet!
OK, soooo…..what is reality? It all depends on who, or what we ask, no? Each Map of the Universe presents a different version. What more can “reality” be then, but a giant colossal Venn Diagram of individual perspectives overlapping in various degrees of consensus reality, within species and between species – degrees that span multiple orders of magnitude – from minute to global to universal. The more common the overlap, the broader and more inclusive the consensus reality within it – among those who share it – side by side with other, incongruent consensus realities, ad infinitum.
How can there possibly be a single universal consensus, or base ‘objective reality’? Who/what among us has a vista that transcends all Maps of the Universe to paint that picture, much less the authority to make the call? It seems reality on the razor’s edge is just an indefinite jumble in constant flux, in which we all inhale and exhale together moment to moment – each according to our Map of the Universe amidst our consensus realities in common, and in close proximity with other consensus realities we do not share.
What Is All This?
The currency of our ride on the razor’s edge is the illusory time we have and how we spend it. Absent a view beyond the birth & death that currently brackets our voyage – what is all this if not just a dream? What does our Map of the Universe say about the day we awaken from all this? The sole certainty in all this – is that day coming. In the meantime………..
Now…..goes nowhere – forever. How do we spend it? Who do we share it with? How do we express our experience? How does it make our heart feel? How often do we ask that question? How willing are we to ask? How does this look on our Map of the Universe?
The light of memory, or the light that memory lends to things, is the palest light of all…..I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware of the unreality, the evanescence of the world, a fleeting image in the moving water.Eugene Ionesco – Romanian-French playwright
What Am I Doing Here?
Finding Heart on our voyage is arguably the most meaningful and rewarding addition to our construct built on our Map of the Universe. No matter how much Heart rides with us on that highway, there is always more to be found, expressed, and shared with our fellow travelers. This is our homework and principal task, as we ride the razor’s edge one Moment to the next: find Love, BE Love, spread Love – for this course of action, infinite support patiently and perpetually awaits. We need only open ourselves to receive it!
What Do I Care?
So there it is, then – Map of the Universe…..
…..at least according to the Map of the Universe drawn here on Beau’s desk…..